For clusters in workload domains with vSphere Lifecycle Manager baselines, you can upgrade ESXi with a custom ISO from your vendor.


Download the appropriate vendor-specific ISO on a computer with internet access. If no vendor-specific ISO is available for the required version of ESXi, then you can create one. See Create a Custom ISO Image for ESXi.


  1. Download the VMware Software Update bundle for VMware ESXi. See Download Bundles from SDDC Manager.
  2. Using SSH, log in to the SDDC Manager appliance.
  3. Create a directory for the vendor ISO under the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount directory. For example, /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries.
  4. Copy the vendor-specific ISO to the directory you created on the SDDC Manager appliance. For example, you can copy the ISO to the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries directory.
  5. Change permissions on the directory where you copied the ISO. For example,
    chmod -R 775 /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/
  6. Change owner to vcf.
    chown -R vcf_lcm:vcf /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/
  7. Create an ESX custom image JSON using the following template.
    "esxCustomImageSpecList": [{
    "bundleId": "bundle ID of the ESXI bundle you downloaded",
    "targetEsxVersion": "ESXi version for the target VMware Cloud Foundation version",
    "useVcfBundle": false,
    "customIsoAbsolutePath": "Path_to_custom_ISO"
    Parameter Description and Example Value
    bundleId ID of the ESXi upgrade bundle you downloaded. You can retrieve the bundle ID by navigating to the Lifecycle Management > Bundle Management page and clicking View Details to view the bundle ID.
    For example, 8c0de63d-b522-4db8-be6c-f1e0ab7ef554.
    Note: If an incorrect bundle ID is provided, the upgrade will proceed with the VMware Cloud Foundation stock ISO and replace the custom VIBs in your environment with the stock VIBs.
    targetEsxVersion Version of the ESXi bundle you downloaded. You can retrieve the target ESXi version by navigating to the Lifecycle Management > Bundle Management page and clicking View Details to view the "Update to Version".
    useVcfBundle Specifies whether the VMware Cloud Foundation ESXi bundle is to be used for the upgrade.
    Note: If you want to upgrade with a custom ISO image, ensure that this is set to false.
    customIsoAbsolutePath Path to the custom ISO file on the SDDC Manager appliance. For example, /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-upgrade-partner-binaries/VMware-VMvisor-Installer-7.0.0.update01-17325551.x86_64-DellEMC_Customized-A01.iso

    Here is an example of a completed JSON template.

    "esxCustomImageSpecList": [{
    "bundleId": "8c0de63d-b522-4db8-be6c-f1e0ab7ef554",
    "targetEsxVersion": "6.7.0-10302608",
    "useVcfBundle": false,
  8. Save the JSON file as esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json in the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount.
    Note: If the JSON file is not saved in the correct directory, the stock VMware Cloud Foundation ISO is used for the upgrade and the custom VIBs are overwritten.
  9. Set the correct permissions on the /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json file:

    chmod -R 775 /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json

    chown -R vcf_lcm:vcf /nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json

  10. Open the /opt/vmware/vcf/lcm/lcm-app/conf/ file.
  11. In the lcm.esx.upgrade.custom.image.spec= parameter, add the path to the JSON file.
    For example, lcm.esx.upgrade.custom.image.spec=/nfs/vmware/vcf/nfs-mount/esx-custom-image-upgrade-spec.json
  12. In the navigation pane, click Inventory > Workload Domains.
  13. On the Workload Domains page, click the domain you are upgrading and then click the Updates/Patches tab.
  14. Schedule the ESXi upgrade bundle.
  15. Monitor the upgrade progress. See Monitor Updates.
  16. After the upgrade is complete, confirm the ESXi version by clicking Current Versions. The ESXi hosts table displays the current ESXi version.